Sale wants to pitch 200 innings as a starter

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Sale wants to pitch 200 innings as a starter

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- Near the end of last season, Chris Sale was sitting at a lunchroom table inside the White Sox clubhouse when pitching coach Don Cooper gave him the news.

Youre going to join the starting rotation next season, Cooper said.

What was Sales initial thought?

Can I get one in before the season ended? I was trying to weasel my way into getting a start late in the year, Sale admitted in an interview with Comcast SportsNet. He entertained it for maybe a day or two, but it just didnt work out. Needless to say, Im really excited to take this on.

The 22-year-old lefty with a rail-thin body and fireballing arm is preparing for the biggest challenge of his professional career: moving from being a reliever to a starter, and even more imposing, filling the spot in the rotation left by Mark Buehrle, arguably the most dependable starter in the history of the White Sox franchise. In his first 11 full seasons in the majors, Buehrle topped the 200-inning mark every year, starting more games (362) than any other pitcher in baseball during that time.

After pitching just 104 13 innings combined the last two seasons in the majors and minors, no one expects Sale to throw 200 innings in 2012.

That is, no one but Chris Sale.

Its not a matter of whether I think I can. I want to, said Sale. Thats something that I want to push for because thats what this team needs. I dont really like to set goals or live up to expectations and stuff because I tried doing that last year and I failed miserably.

Hailed by fans and media as the second-coming after his spectacular debut at the end of the 2010 season, Sale started to believe the hype when the White Sox broke camp last spring. However, the phenom quickly came back down to Earth after getting pummeled in April and May, posting a 5.31 ERA.

The first couple months I was just struggling miserably, both physically and mentally. Going out there getting rocked for an inning, giving up runs, walking guys and stuff like that. It really kind of bothered me, Sale said. I let it all get to me. Im so passionate about pitching. This is something Ive done my entire life. This is really the one thing that Im good at. For me to go out there and not succeed like I wanted to, it was killing me.

Fortunately for Sale, he received some great advice from his teammates and coaches.

Some of the guys were just like, Hey its over. Youre not going to go back and fix that. Focus on what you need to do now. Clear your mind. Dont think about that stuff because any negative energy coming towards you, its a waste. Talking with Coop, he really kind of led me through this last year. I was very fortunate for that and very thankful for that.

Those same pitchers who came to his emotional rescue are amazed by Sales freakish ability, even his fellow starters -- great talents of their own whose jaws drop when they watch him pitch.

He definitely has the best stuff on our team, said Gavin Floyd, who held that title until Sale arrived. When he first came up, they all had the scouting report on him and I looked in the other dugout and they were like, Look at this guy. Then all of sudden you see the radar and the miles per hour, and they all started laughing. Theyre like, Man, we never expected that out of this guy.

Floyds praise for Sale is actually dwarfed by the words coming from 2007 Cy Young Award winner Jake Peavy.

Chris Sale is as good as anybody that I have ever played with as far as his raw, physical talent, said Peavy, who has played with the likes of Greg Maddux, Trevor Hoffman, David Wells and Heath Bell.

When I told Sale about Peavys compliment, he was floored by it.

Thats one of the best compliments Ive ever gotten, Sale said. Jakes a great guy and I know hes worked real hard to get back healthy. Im pretty sure hes tired of talking about it. Hes a warrior out there. Hes a guy that I look up to. For him to say those things about me is pretty special.

To prepare his body for the endurance needed to be a full-time starter in the majors, Sale added swimming to his workout routine, following in the footsteps of his father and grandfather who were both excellent swimmers back in the day. In fact, Sales dad was an All-American swimmer at Daytona Beach Community College and still owns records from their hometown of Lakeland, Fla.

He actually got on me the other day because he saw where I was talking about how he showed me swimming, and I called him an old man, Sale said. He goes, Next time youre at home, this old man will school you in the pool! He didnt much like that.

Is Chris a good swimmer?

I can float.

And when he finished with his strenuous aquatic workouts Chris was relieved...because he could eat.

I came home and crushed food every time, Sale said. Something about getting in a pool, you just automatically get hungry.

Taking a glance at his 170-pound beanpole body, it sure didnt look like it.

I gained about 20 pounds this offseason, and for some reason I lost it all before I came out here, joked Sale. Thats my story and Im sticking to it.

While his body might not carry that much weight, his stuff just might carry the White Sox rotation for years to come.

Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

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Sale looks to stop the slide as White Sox face Royals on CSN

The White Sox take on the Kansas City Royals on Sunday, and you can catch all the action on Comcast SportsNet. Coverage begins with White Sox Pregame Live at 12:30 p.m. Be sure to stick around after the final out to get analysis and player reaction on White Sox Postgame Live.

Sunday’s starting pitching matchup: Chris Sale vs. Edison Volquez

Click here for a game preview to make sure you’re ready for the action.  

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

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Seven-run ninth inning dooms White Sox in loss to Royals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- What an implosion.

A day after they inexplicably gave away one contest, the White Sox outdid themselves on Saturday afternoon.

Instead of evening the series with a decisive victory, David Robertson and Tommy Kahnle allowed the Kansas City Royals to rally for seven ninth-inning runs to send the White Sox to a stunning 8-7 loss in front of 31,598 at Kauffman Stadium. Brett Eibner’s bases-loaded RBI single off Kahnle capped an improbable comeback and delivered another crushing blow to the White Sox, who have lost five straight and 13 of their last 17 contests.

“This is a tough one, no matter how you look at it,” third baseman Todd Frazier said. “You saw what happened. You can go back and think about it, game we should have won and didn’t win.”

“We’re all professionals and we’ve seen crazy things in baseball. This is one of them.”

Saturday’s loss ranks as one of the craziest in club history. The White Sox went from a state of joy, cruising toward a pivotal victory, to disarray in a span of 51 pitches.

Leading 7-1, Robertson took over and struck out Paulo Orlando.

Cheslor Cuthbert then singled and Eibner doubled to deep right when Adam Eaton lost the ball in the sun. Robertson walked Omar Infante and Alcides Escobar consecutively to force in a run, which prompted a visit from White Sox manager Robin Ventura.

Whit Merrifield’s grounder then deflected off the glove of Robertson and a potential double play turned into a two-run single and made it a 7-4 contest.

“The worst part about it was looking back and seeing Brett (Lawrie) was right there,” Robertson said. “If I had let it go, I would have got us out of the inning. It’s frustrating when you make a mistake like that.”

Lorenzo Cain’s hustle kept the inning alive as he narrowly beat out a game-ending double play to drive in another run. Eric Hosmer followed with an RBI double to right-center field to make it a 7-6 game and end Robertson’s day.

“It’s a terrible performance on my part,” Robertson said. “Can’t say much else about it.

“It doesn’t matter what the score is, I still have to get three outs. I let the whole team down.”

Drew Butera lifted his team’s spirits. The backup catcher entered in the ninth inning after an apparent knee injury knocked Salvador Perez out of the game. Already on tilt, the Kauffman crowd erupted when Butera ripped a 99-mph fastball from Kahnle for a game-tying double.

The White Sox opted to intentionally walk Orlando. But it didn’t prevent Kahnle from allowing Butera to advance to third as he uncorked a wild pitch. Kahnle also intentionally walked Jarrod Dyson to load the bases for Eibner, who ended a 10-pitch at-bat with the game-winning single under the glove of Sox first baseman Jose Abreu.

“The way games have been going, you go to the guy to close it out, because we haven’t been able to get to him,” Ventura said. “There’s no shot clock. There’s no time clock. If you can’t close it out, that’s what happens. And today we couldn’t close it out.”

The White Sox entered the ninth inning without a care in the world. They had bounced back definitively from Friday’s stunner, when the bullpen surrendered a four-run lead over the final three innings.

An opposite-field approach against Kansas City starter Yordano Ventura took hold with two outs in the fourth inning. Brett Lawrie, Alex Avila and Avisail Garcia all had opposite-field singles, Garcia’s providing the White Sox a 1-0 lead. Tyler Saladino then crushed a hanging 0-2 slider from Ventura for a three-run homer to left field and a four-run lead.

The White Sox offense continued to add on against Ventura. Avila doubled with one out in the fourth inning and Garcia hammered a 2-1 changeup for a two-run shot. Garcia’s homer, his fifth, traveled 428 feet at an exit velocity of 113 mph and gave the White Sox a 6-1 advantage.

They added another run in the fifth as Austin Jackson singled, advanced on a wild pitch and scored on a throwing error by Omar Infante.

And then the Royals happened again.

“They have mojo over there right now,” Avila said. “They just keep coming at you and taking advantage of the fact that we’re scuffling a little bit right now.”

The devastating loss was the third in 18 days in which the White Sox bullpen surrendered a significant lead. The unit, which has a 4.73 ERA this month, also blew a five-run lead in a 13-11 loss at the Texas Rangers on May 10. Along with a blown four-run lead on Friday, the White Sox nearly surrendered a four-run advantage in the opening game of a doubleheader against the Cleveland Indians on Monday.

“It might have a lasting effect,” Frazier said. “There are going to be some guys who are in here who tonight aren’t going to be real happy. Once you get in here and know we start over again, I’ve learned from the best that you start all over like nothing happened and go about your business.”

White Sox have interest in San Diego pitcher James Shields

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White Sox have interest in San Diego pitcher James Shields

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The White Sox have spoken to the San Diego Padres about acquiring starting pitcher James Shields.

The San Diego Union-Tribune confirmed an internet report Saturday that the White Sox have interest in the 34-year-old right-hander. Shields is 2-6 with a 3.06 ERA in 10 starts for the Padres this season.

A member of the Kansas City Royals from 2013-14, Shields is in the second season of a four-year, $75-million deal he signed with San Diego before last season. He is owed at least $44 million over the next two seasons. The contract includes a $16 million team option for 2019 with a $2 million buyout. He’s earning $21 million this season and in 2017 and 2018. Shields can opt out of the deal at the end of the 2016 season.

White Sox general manager Rick Hahn has made it no secret he hopes to add to a club that won 23 of its first 33 games in hopes of contending. Though the Sox had lost 12 of their past 16, they entered Saturday with a half-game lead over the Cleveland Indians and a game over the Royals.

The team’s interest in Shields was first reported Saturday on Twitter by @barstoolWSD.